The annual Orionid meteor shower will peak in the hours before dawn on Oct. 21, according to the editors of StarDate magazine, who said the shower could produce up to 20 meteors per hour.
The view should be especially good this year, as the crescent Moon will remain below the horizon, with no chance to overpower the light from meteors streaking across the sky.
High-resolution images and high-definition video are available online at StarDate’s Media Center. There, you can also sign up to receive advanced e-mail notices of future skywatching events.
Orionid meteors appear to fall from above the star Betelgeuse, the bright orange star marking the shoulder of the constellation Orion. They are not associated with this star or constellation, but are leftover debris from Halley’s Comet. The Orionid meteors recur each year when Earth passes through the comet’s debris trail.
For your best view, get away from city lights. Look for state or city parks or other safe, dark sites. Lie on a blanket or reclining chair to get a full-sky view. If you can see all of the stars in the Little Dipper, you have good dark-adapted vision.
Published bi-monthly by The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory, StarDate magazine provides readers with skywatching tips, skymaps, beautiful astronomical photos, astronomy news and features, and a 32-page Sky Almanac each January.
Established in 1932, The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas, hosts multiple telescopes undertaking a wide range of astronomical research under the darkest night skies of any professional observatory in the continental United States. McDonald is home to the consortium-run Hobby-Eberly Telescope, one of the world’s largest, which will soon be upgraded to begin the HET Dark Energy Experiment. An internationally known leader in astronomy education and outreach, McDonald Observatory is also pioneering the next generation of astronomical research as a founding partner of the Giant Magellan Telescope.